The Secret Scripture, By Sebastian Barry

When all seems lost, there's always the plot
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The Independent Culture

Sebastian Barry's dark and often harrowing novel, which centres on the relationship between an Irish psychiatrist and his elderly patient, was first published in 2008.

It became the subject of an unusual literary controversy at that year's Costa Book Awards: although it scooped the main prize, the panel of judges damned it with faint praise. Revisiting the book in this new edition, one can see why the panel equivocated. The author's tone can be rather sentimental, and he has a tin ear for dialogue. But there is, nevertheless, plenty to admire here, not least Barry's artfully constructed plot: gradually revealing hidden connections between the two protagonists, it builds to a climax that is as moving as it is unexpected.